On Thursday, October 1st, 2015 Yemeni demonstrators took to the United Nations headquarters in lieu of former President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s visit. Elected only as a temporary leader, Hadi’s continued alliance with the Saudi regime gave rise for him to potentially reclaim his presidency in Yemen by utilizing Saudi’s military support to oust the Shia Houthis from Yemen’s capital — the City of Sana’a. This Saudi led intervention that began on March 25th, 2015, has left a death toll of over twelve thousand civilians . Including over a thousand children in just five months of bombing. Leaving demonstrators no choice but to tell the world how international laws are being broken and millions are now suffering at the hands of Saudi Arabia and Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
In 2011, Yemen joined the Arab Spring by demanding U.S.-backed president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who maintained his rule for over thirty-three years, resign. Aside from having to live under Saleh’s dictatorship, the people of Yemen were finished with hegemonic policies that endorsed corruption, exacerbated economic disparities, and even included a manipulation of Yemen’s constitution so that Saleh could hand his presidential office over to his son. Unable to quell the rebellion, Saleh ordered troops to open fire on demonstrators in Sana’a as a desperation move to maintain his position as president. With Security Forces murdering between 200 to 2000 people, Saleh quickly lost international support and finally stepped down on February 27th, 2012 .
After the fall of Saleh, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, former Vice President of Ali Abdullah Saleh, ran uncontested during Yemen’s 2012 presidential election. Hadi was supposed to oversee a new parliament as well as a new constitution that would allow Yemen’s transition to a democratic state . Under newly granted powers from the Gulf Cooperation Council signed by former president Saleh, Hadi had put an end to public subsidies on fuel, was negotiating a potential six regional split in Yemen, and maintained his close ties with Saudi Arabia . This culmination of events ignited Houthis to take control of Sana’a. Withstanding four months of fighting, Houthis surrounded Hadi’s presidential palace and acquired his written resignation on January 22, 2015 — leaving Hadi in exile and under house arrest in Aden .
Seizing control of Sana’a in 2015, Houthis promptly formed the Supreme Revolutionary Committee as a way to oversee the interim government’s transition to a functioning democracy . Houthis were granted these powers according to the Peace and Partnership Agreement signed in September of 2014 . After a second overthrow of Sana’a, this time led by Shia Houthis — a new truce was being facilitated by the United Nations, by the remaining parties left in Parliament, and by the Houthis’ Supreme Revolutionary Committee. Their main responsibilities were to negotiate a new constitution for the people of Yemen, a new 551-seat Parliament led by a 5-seat Presidential Council. However, this short period of peace was interrupted on March 25th, 2015 when Saudi airstrikes began within Yemeni borders.
Hadi, living in exile, managed to escape house arrest in Aden, retracted his resignation as president, and declared the Houthis’ revolution as unconstitutional. By declaring his so-called right to the presidency of Yemen gave Saudi Arabia all the reasons it needed to begin airstrikes. However, as standing members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, both the United States as well as Saudi Arabia already knew that in order to begin any military engagements — they must first go through the U.N.’s Security Council. According to U.N. Charter Chapter VII: Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression, Article 47 states, “[p]lans for the application of armed force shall be made by the Security Council with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee” . Meaning, by Saudi-led airstrikes in cooperation with the United States’ refueling stations and intelligence operations — violates international law.
On top of ignoring the U.N. Charter both Saudi Arabia and the United Staes are also violating international law by using illegal armament to terrorize the people of Yemen. Journalist Donatella Rovera reported inside Yemeni borders as finding, “a field full of U.S.-made BLU-97 cluster submunitions” . Banned by an International Convention in 2008 cluster bombs were declared illegal and world leaders agreed to removing them from their military’s possession . Nevertheless, U.S. warehouses were stocked full of the BLU-97’s and were eventually sold to Saudi Arabia for them to now use against Yemeni civilians.
Knowing their violations of International law, specifically regarding acts of aggression during times of peace — the U.S. and Saudi Arabia alliance blocked a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution that would have launched a humanitarian investigation in Yemen . Furthermore, this resolution blockage is allowing Saudi Arabia to continue their illegal bombing of Yemen, to further the humanitarian crisis by restricting aid, and is enabling the U.S. to supply Saudi jets with fuel, along with covert operations inside Yemen..
The people of Yemen were promised a way out of a dictatorship-type rule so their country could transition into a democracy. However, what the Yemeni people have seen is representation that caters to U.S. oil demands, representation that hands over regional control to Al-Qaeda, and even representation that will abide by the demands of Saudi Arabia. This is why Yemen is in such a fragile state and why the bombing must stop. With more and more civilians being murdered every day, along with humanitarian aid being restricted to a single access point under the strict control of Saudi Arabia — puts an already vulnerable population at a greater risk for more war and more famine.
At the October 1st demonstration, Yemeni advocate Abulalah Aljahmi stated, “[w]hen I look…and see the children who have been killed by Saudi Arabia…I look at my children and think how it could have been my own family being murdered — and so I worry”. Aljahmi and fellow demonstrators arrived at the United Nations headquarters on behalf of those left without aid and without a governing body that could advocate for peace and justice. Therefore, it is in the best interest for all parties to come back to the negotiating table under a U.N. brokered truce to resolve how democratic rule will be implemented. And how to stabilize an already starved and war torn region until a proper representative government can be elected by the people of Yemen.
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